The Sanskrit name for this pose, “Parivrtta Parsvakonasana” (PAHR-ee-VREE-tah PARZH-vuh-ko-NAHS-uh-nuh)
Origin and meaning of the asana
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, comes from four words:
- “Parivrtta” — meaning “revolved”
- “Parsva” — meaning “side” or “flank”
- “Kona” — meaning “angle”
- “Asana” — meaning “pose”
It also goes by various English names, including “Twisting Side Angle,” “Rotated Side Angle,” “Side Angle Twist,” and others. But no matter what your yoga teacher calls it, you’ll still gain all of the benefits from practicing this challenging, standing twist!
Interpretation of the asana
Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Rest your hands on your hips. Turn your right foot out to the right 90 degrees and turn your left foot in slightly to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
Exhale and turn your torso to the right until you’re facing directly out over the right leg; as you do this, lift your left heel off the floor and spin on the ball of the foot until the inner left foot is parallel to the inner right foot. Then exhale again and bend your right knee. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Keep your left leg active by pressing the thigh up toward the ceiling and extending strongly through the left heel. At the same time, resist the lift of the left thigh by pressing the tailbone toward the pubis.
With another exhale turn further to the right and lean the torso down, placing the left hand on the floor inside the right foot. Dig your right thumb into the right hip crease and push the thighbone down toward the floor. Firm the shoulder blades into the back ribs and lean the torso back slightly, away from the inner thigh. Stay in this position for a few breaths.
If this position seems challenging enough, stay for the recommended time. If you want to go further, bend your left elbow and bring it to the outside of the right knee. Resist the knee and elbow against each other. If possible, straighten your left elbow and reach the hand toward the floor (if you can’t reach the floor, support your hand on a block). You can keep your right hand on your hip, or stretch it over the back of the right ear with the palm facing down. Then turn your head to look at the right arm. As in all twists lengthen and soften the belly, extend the spine with each inhalation, and increase the twist as you exhale.
Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, exhale to release the twist. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then return to Tadasana.
An asana from the ashtanga vinyasa lineage, this pose has many benefits:
- Strengthens the shoulders, legs, and feet.
- Tones the inner and outer muscles of the legs.
- Opens the hips and hip flexors.
- Challenges your balance.
- Low backache
- Avoid in the case of hip or pelvis injury.
- Keep both feet strong and connected to the ground.
Beginners often have difficulty maintaining their balance in this pose, especially with the back heel lifted off the floor. To improve your balance, support your heel, either by standing it on a sandbag or thick book, or by bracing it against a wall.